Kings: Oilers could provide slippery slope in playoff run

March, 30, 2012
3/30/12
7:09
AM PT
Kings (38-27-12, 88 points) vs. Edmonton Oilers (31-37-9, 71 points) at Rexall Place, 6:30 p.m. PT

Five storylines to track:

1. Scene setter – The Kings dropped a spot in the Western Conference standings during their day off Thursday, but remain eighth with five games remaining and their destiny still firmly locked in their hands. Ninth-place San Jose also has 88 points but the Sharks have played one more game than the Kings. Colorado is two points back with just three games remaining and Calgary is three points behind with four games left on its schedule. Many believe the Kings need to win at least three of their remaining five games to make the playoffs for a third straight season.

2. Trap game – Everything indicates the Kings should win this game, which could pose the biggest problem. After a physically draining stretch against six teams fighting for playoff position, the Kings get the Oilers, who have been eliminated from the playoffs for the sixth consecutive season. Edmonton didn’t offer much resistance in a 3-1 loss Wednesday against the visiting Stars, but they did win five of their previous seven. They’ve also beat the Kings in both meetings this season, allowing just one goal.

3. Carter ailing – The news out of Edmonton is Kings forward Jeff Carter might miss the game with an ankle injury. He apparently suffered the injury late in the 3-0 victory Wednesday against the Calgary Flames, though he didn’t miss a shift. Carter has cooled off since he first arrived from Columbus in a trade deadline deal Feb. 23. He has one goal in his last six games, an empty netter in a 5-2 victory March 20 against San Jose. Brad Richardson, a healthy scratch the last nine games, would likely replace Carter in the lineup.

4. Gimme a D – The Kings are back to winning on defense again. They’ve allowed just five goals in the last four games and one of those was an empty-netter that trickled in just before the final horn. They’ve allowed more than two goals only once in the last nine, and their 10th shutout of the season Wednesday night tied a franchise record. No matter how this season ends, it appears the Kings will also set a franchise record for fewest goals allowed in a full regular season. They’ve allowed 165 so far. The record is 185, set in 1974-75.

5. Hello old friendRyan Smyth has cooled off for the Oilers since the first two months of the season, where he totaled 12 goals and 12 assists by Thanksgiving weekend. Smyth, who asked the Kings to trade him back to the Oilers in the offseason, has just seven goals in the last four months. Of course, that doesn't mean much heading into this game. Smyth, 36, would probably like nothing more than to put a dent in L.A.'s postseason hopes and save him the thought of missing out on all the fun.

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